11 Independent Dog Breeds

In the United States, we’re all about our independence — which is why we dedicate a summer holiday to celebrating it. But independence in dogs is not always ideal. In fact, a dog with a mind of his own can be stubborn and hard to train.

Many breeds were developed to do work that required them to act independently. Those dogs tend to be smart, but as family pets, they may need more leadership and training than others. Ultimately, though, they’re worth it.

In honor of the Fourth of July, click through our photo gallery to see 11 dog breeds that tend to have independent personalities.

Breeds With Independent Personalities

Akita Laying in Barn

Nick Ridley, Animal Photography

Akita

The bold and powerful Akita isn’t known for barking, but he is still an excellent watchdog. Many Akitas are protective of their families, especially children, and they require lots of socialization to help them distinguish between what is a threat and what is normal.

Brown Shar-Pei Outdoors

Tara Gregg, Animal Photography

Chinese Shar-Pei

The Chinese Shar-Pei's wrinkly face may make you want to give him a squeeze, but that’s probably not what he wants. The strong-willed guard dogs are highly territorial and can be distrustful of strangers, making them a poor choice for first-time dog owners who haven’t had experience in firm, steadfast training.

Jack Russell Terrier dog

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

Jack Russell Terrier

If you look up the word “tenacious” in the dictionary, you may see a picture of the Jack Russell Terrier. Bred to eradicate pesky vermin from farms, the breed has an impressive drive to work and dig. She can be difficult to live with if you’re not able to channel that energy and single-mindedness into dog sports that she enjoys, like earthdog trials, agility or terrier races.

Chihuahua dog breed

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

Chihuahua

Don’t let the Chihuahua's teeny frame fool you. If the little dogs have a reputation for being spoiled and untrainable, it’s probably because their owners have let them get away with things that wouldn’t be tolerated in larger dogs. The good news is that Chihuahuas are intelligent, and many respond well to consistent rules and structure — if you’re smart enough to give that to them.

Miniature Pinscher

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

Miniature Pinscher

There’s a good reason people call the Miniature Pinscher the King of the Toys. This willful canine enjoys hobbies such as digging, barking and chasing anything that moves — and he doesn’t particularly care if you don’t share his interests. With the Min Pin, it’s important not to let him get away with bad behaviors or they could become habits that are almost impossible to break.

Polish Lowland Sheepdog Running in Water

Tara Gregg, Animal Photography

Polish Lowland Sheepdog

The Polish Lowland Sheepdog has worked as a herding and flock-guarding dog since the 15th century, and like many of her herding dog cousins, she needs activities to keep her physically and mentally occupied. She sometimes has a possessive temperament and is prone to stealing and stashing household items that you’ll probably spend hours searching for.

Tibetan Mastiff Dog

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

Tibetan Mastiff

As a breed that’s guarded people for more than 2,000 years, the Tibetan Mastiff can come across as strong-willed and overprotective. His protective nature combined with his independent mindset mean his attitude is “my way or the highway” — especially if he thinks it’s for your safety. Early and frequent training helps this breed be better-behaved and less wary of strangers.

Collie

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

Collie

Collies are eager to please and love people, but they can be a bit stubborn. As a herding breed, they learned to make decisions without human input. They also are known for trying to herd humans by nipping at their heels. It’s up to you to train and socialize your Collie so his independence works for you — not against you.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Ron Willbie, Animal Photography

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

The personality of a Toller is said to be somewhere between a Golden Retriever's and a terrier's — meaning that the breed is smart, outgoing and easy to train, but he likes to do things his own way. Keep him in check by establishing firm rules and challenging him mentally.

Lemon Beagle Smiling at Camera

Leesia Teh, Animal Photography

Beagle

If there’s one thing you need to know about Beagles, it’s this: They are ruled by their noses. The breed’s powerful sense of smell can lead them to escape from the yard or break into the dog food bag. Another thing you should know: They have selective hearing. Beagles are skilled at ignoring commands and wandering off. They are highly motivated by food. So if you want your Beagle to listen to you (and not his nose), command his attention with treats.

Lhasa Apso Dog Breed

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

Lhasa Apso

Lhasa Apsos are smart dogs, but they can be manipulative, mischievous and stubborn. They were bred by Tibetan monks to protect people, not to please them. The keys to training the breed are consistency, firmness and short, fun training sessions.

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